What type of music do you prefer? Although musical tastes vary widely, odds are that you gravitate towards music similar to what you grew up with. Often we get used to a particular style, and new styles are less attractive than those we heard in our young years.
It’s said that every generation has its “soundtrack” — music that defines a time period. We talk about music of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and so on. If you didn’t grow up in the 50’s, music from that time period may seem old, and while you may occasionally catch it on an oldies station, but it’s not on your playlist. Not many gravitate to the big band music of the 30’s and 40’s Swing Era anymore — few are alive who grew up with it.
Generational trends happen with more than just music styles. They happen with health also. Our bodies seem to have a sort of memory, where environmental conditions they were exposed to years or decades ago still impact them today. There’s good reason the early years of life are called the “formative years” — they mold our minds and bodies in many ways. Disease often has roots going back years. We know that cancer in particular often goes through years in the “pre-cancerous” stage, not yet showing symptoms but changing epigenetically in ways that set the stage for full-blown cancer later on.
Like a large ocean liner on the ocean can turn, but slowly and with a lot of force expended to make the turn, we can’t expect our bodies to change direction instantly, especially as we get older. Yet, if we understand what has been setting the stage for poor health in our earlier years, we can make changes now to get our bodies to start turning in the right direction. Someone with cancer or other severe major health challenge may need to make major changes quickly, but don’t give up! That disease is a warning that your body is crying out for change.
So what early patterns do we set that prepare the body for ill health later? First, our minds take in thoughts from our family and our world which shape us in good and bad ways. Then, how we eat has long term consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US obesity has risen from 30.5% to almost 42% in the last two decades, and severe obesity has doubled in that time period. Did that obesity have roots in the formative years? At least half the time, the answer is yes: a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine took a sample of 51,505 children and tracked their BMI through adolescence (age 15 to 18), finding that 53% obese adolescents had been significantly overweight or obese from age 5 onward. And that pattern continues forward in later life — those who are obese in adolescence often continue to be overweight years later. Some decide to “do something about it,” and try various diets. Often they find the fat seems to be stubborn and they may just decide that their bodies have a high natural weight — “fat genes” or something, and give up on the diets.
Is being overweight so bad? A popular trend recently is to stop “fat shaming” and just accept higher weight as OK — no point in making people feel bad about it. But people’s opinions don’t shape reality — the overweight body is at a higher risk of many diseases, especially cancer. Again, from the CDC, “From 2005 to 2014, most cancers associated with overweight and obesity increased in the United States, while cancers associated with other factors decreased.” Other cancer trends decreased? We know that cancer rates are still rising, with the American Cancer Society stating that cancer risks have been rising dramatically since 1990 worldwide. Putting that together with non-weight-related cancer risks dropping somewhat (they are still quite high), that means that excess fat is causing a disproportionately rising cancer risk. These statistics pay no attention to “fat shaming” — they are just facts.
So you are at greater risk of diseases you really don’t want and can ruin your life, if you are overweight. The stage is being set for you. But are fad diets the answer? Is there a science to dieting?
Dieting made easy
You want to improve your health, and you know that diet is part of the solution. You can find eating and diet programs everywhere — which do you choose? Or do you figure that they just won’t work for you anyway — your body is just stubborn and holds onto fat, so why bother?
If you think that way, you may be missing the key: gut flora. The microorganisms in your gut define how your digestion works. Your gut flora, or microbiota, is as individual as your fingerprint, influenced by how you’ve been eating over time. Introduction of a new diet will start to shift the make-up of your microbiota, but establishing the best flora will take some time. In the meantime, your gut flora may be resisting your suddenly “good” diet — you may even find that the best foods don’t seem to “agree with you” at first. If your gut has been conditioned to try to digest the Standard American Diet (SAD), don’t expect it to suddenly love broccoli and garlic.
But if you don’t make the change and start steering the ship, you are reinforcing the old rut which can take down your health catastrophically. This is what is happening in the worldwide population. Consider this study, published in Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology, where researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, along with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, studied the “birth cohort effect” and generational cancer risk. The birth cohort effect refers to the rise in cancer risk by what decade you were born in, with each decade showing an increase risk over the previous. The researchers studied 14 different cancer types that are rising steadily, and they found that youth environmental exposures, particularly diet, is producing more cancer in later years with each age group, and the effect is accelerating. Apparently if you were born many decades ago, your environmental dietary foundation is likely better than subsequent generations. “In an extensive review, the team found that the early life exposome, which encompasses one’s diet, lifestyle, weight, environmental exposures, and microbiome, has changed substantially in the last several decades…contributing to the early-onset cancer epidemic” This is a very undesirable generational trend!
Microbiome refers to the specific organism mix of the microbiota or gut flora. Why would the microbiome be different with different generations, why might some older people’s microbiota be more protective against disease, and why are diseases on the rise? This study suggests it all comes down to history: the SAD has been getting a stronger grip on society with each passing decade.
So a bad diet over the years is more “entrenched” — the rut is deeper. Since many of us just go along with whatever life brings, and trust that medical technology will save us when diseases build up, we aren’t bucking the trend. But you can change course if you want to buck the trend.
Get your gut in gear
Because gut flora adjust to your diet over time, you might think that a good diet is enough. But some gut bacteria multiply extremely quickly on certain fuel. Sugar is a big villain here, because a few sweets can have an oversized, negative impact on your microbiota, making the good aspects of your diet less impactful. Plant-based fat doesn’t shift the gut flora as rapidly, but it a much better fuel source and, over time, will improve your flora, which in turn improves your digestion and your adjustment to being a “fat burner.” Intermittent fasting, where for nearly two-thirds of the 24-hour day you are not taking in any food (water is allowed and desirable), helps starve out fast-growing sugar-loving gut bacteria and can make any diet more effective. For instance, in a research article published in JAMA Oncology, researchers from the University of California studied 2,413 women who had previous breast cancer and found that fasting for fewer than 13 hours per night was associated with a 36% higher risk of cancer recurrence. Other studies show various links between diet or gut flora composition and cancer risk — the connection is undeniable.
Consider your gut flora an investment: you work to build it up, and you don’t want an occasional temptation to damage your investment. The best way to grow your nest egg is through a consistent investment over time. same with your health. Don’t be a generational trend statistic!
Dr. Nemec’s Review
Very interesting facts the research has shown. Many cancers are going down in numbers except those that are driven by fat — those are still rising. How does this work? You’re fat cells secrete two very negative molecules: one is the inflammatory cytokine IL-6, and the other one it is estrogen. Inflammation is the root of all disease, including cancer, and estrogen promotes female cancers along with prostate cancer. So we do not want to pack these fat cells with more fat — quite the opposite — we want them to have little to no fat. With little to no fat in the fat cells then you will not secrete inflammatory molecules from them and you will not secrete estrogen, both of which are greatly increasing your risk of many cancers.
The other study was also very interesting: basically what it was saying is our diets are getting worse as the generations go on, meaning that each successive generation is becoming weaker genetically and weaker with more inflammation, thus predisposing them to quicker onset diseases including cancer. If you’re 60 years or older, look at what you ate growing up compared to what the kids eat now growing up. Lots of fast food, lots of preserved food, lots of frozen food, lots of refined processed food is the norm today. It’s easy, quick and convenient and also leads to early onset diabetes and early onset weight gain, including obesity. This country is out of control with obesity rates increasing 42% — we have to make a stand personally and for our families. Convenient doesn’t usually mean healthy.
Fat is a very interesting thing. You don’t need a test to measure it: you can see it and feel it. When we treat patients we do total body fat percentage and body mass index regularly on them and what we find is, if they adopt the Seven Basic Steps to Total Health diet and lifestyle, this percentage and index always, always decreases. If it does not decrease, they are not doing the program. Now what we see with some patients is they start well, they lose weight, they feel great, their body begins to heal, but then they think they have it now so they slowly go back to old food and old habits which re-inflames the tissues and stores more fat, causing more inflammation molecules and more estrogen to be secreted. If we care about our loved ones we will help them get healthy. We will not ignore the signs of ill health, and one of the biggest ones, and easiest ones to see, is being overweight. To not notice and not help them is no different than seeing an alcoholic or some other addictive or abusive pattern in a person’s life and just pretending it’s not there. You can do that for the general public but not for those that you love and care about. That’s what love is about: helping them even when they don’t want help. But this help is with Love, not with the law.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.